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D&Detox

pemerton

Legend
@pemerton - Before I WoT here, a question. Do you think it's common in D&D games for the DM to ask the players to describe something in the game world? As in, the player walk into their local tavern, and the DM asks OK, what does it look like and who's here? That sort of thing.

My basic premise is that isn't common at all, nor is it suggested or encouraged by the rules set. Why I think that's important is another story, but I wanted to set the ground before we got any more involved, as I think we're coming at this form different angles.
I'm not sure what WoT is in this context (not Wheel of Time?). [EDIT: = wall of text?]

i think it's probably not common for the GM in a D&D game to ask players to describe things. What puzzles me is why it's not.

Maybe our different angles, or at least one dimension of difference - as I read your posts, so obviously with all the risk of error that entails! - is that you seem to be thinking that if the text doesn't forthrightly encourage player contributions, it is tending to discourage them.

Whereas I think if the text says little about it, then if the tendency is to go one way (few player contriutions) rather than another (some, even many, player contributions) that invites further inquiry and explanation. Especially when the texts are not all one-way.

I've posted already the passage from 1977 Traveller. From 1979 DMG )p (93) we have the following:

Assume that the player in question decides that he will set up a stronghold about 100 miles from a border town, choosing an area of wooded hills as the general site. He then asks you if there is a place where he can build a small concentric castle on a high bluff overlooking a river. Unless this is totally foreign to the area, you inform him that he can do so.​

On the one hand, that's not the most powerful player contribution to the fiction of all time; on the other, it shows that the GM - while having overall editorial control - is not envisaged as being the sole contributor shared fiction. This is reinforced when we consider actual play examples from Gygax's game - many of which are recorded in early published products like the Rogue's Gallery, modules and rulebooks - that show us players being pretty active in establishing the content and parameters of the shared fiction.

D&D 4e goes further than either the Traveller or AD&D texts in both core and supplementary books - I already mentioned player-authored quests and the DMG2, and those aren't the only examples.

So where does the idea come from that the player's job is essentially to be an audience to fiction estabished and set forth by the GM? My own view is that the 2nd ed AD&D books are a significant part of the answer to this question. That may not be the only or even the best answer.

Again, what's striking to me is that there appears to be a culture here which is not what I would expect if all I knew was late-70s/early-80s RPG texts. And related, that a game published in 1977 seems closer in its ethos to Apocalypse World than many RPGs that are ostensibly far more modern.
 

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Ratskinner

Adventurer
So from my point of view, it's not so much what D&D actively encourages, but rather what is about either D&D rules or D&D culture that actively discourages players engaging with the fiction in that sort of way? (And it's not like D&D is a monolith in this respect. There's 4e and especially but not only the DMG2 - eg the idea of player-authored quests is right there in the PHB and DMG. And as I said, I was working out some of this stuff for myself around 1986/7, GMing AD&D.)
My $.04...

Encourages and Discourages are two sides of the same coin here. I think there are two particular factors in D&D (and I throw most traditionally-framed rpgs in there, too):

First, the game-design is list based (spells, equipment, classes, tables for what kind of prostitute you meet, etc.) which defines the fiction right off....yes, there is magic...but THIS is what you can do with it. That kinda narrows things right off the bat.

Secondly, the game mechanics and descriptions of those list items are defined in such a way as to primarily act quantitatively with other mechanics (hp, AC, etc.), not qualitatively within the fiction, and only secondarily to add very specific narrative elements. (Consider the necessity of having a mechanical definition for "stunned" vs. just being "stunned" as a Consequence or temporary Aspect in Fate - no extra mechanics needed.)

....I'm going to avoid addressing 4e to try and keep this thread from degenerating.:censored:
 

pemerton

Legend
So an important element of a D&Detox would be giving the players magical rings, still subject to the One Ring, that allow them - nay - encourage them to do some narrating? Maybe a short scene, created mostly by the players, with minimal GM input? Or GM input that requires PC elaboration?
I don't think having players narrate vignettes is particularly necessary. It may be helpful, but I don't know as I've never really tried it.

I thik @Ratskinner's post in more on target. It's about encourage players to engage the fiction - both in high-level "thematic terms, that is, making decisions about what it is that their PCs' goals are; and in more nitty-gritty action declaration terms, that is, actually telling us what it is their PCs are doing or hoping to achieve in the here and now.

Eg instead of I look around - what do I see? I would encourage players to say I am looking for such-and-such - is it here? Of course one way you encourage that is by making it matter. And one way you can make it matter is be using some sort of post-action-declaration rather than pre-action-declaration process for working out the answer to the player's question.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
It might not be common, but I also don’t think that DMing style is rare. I’ve run across it many times, and also hear it frequently in live-streamed games. I use it myself, selectively.
I have no idea how common it is overall. My suspicion is that podcasts are changing the way that people are playing the game. I mean, there's lots of folks picking up the game for the first time after watching some of them, and the younger folks will be coming in without the decades of prejudicial experience that us old-timers have. From what I've seen from other DMs, some will occasionally sprinkle such things in, but that most people don't consider it part of the "game" as prescribed by the rules... and how that affects what people perceive about the popularity of this kind of behavior is up for grabs.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Eg instead of I look around - what do I see? I would encourage players to say I am looking for such-and-such - is it here? Of course one way you encourage that is by making it matter. And one way you can make it matter is be using some sort of post-action-declaration rather than pre-action-declaration process for working out the answer to the player's question.
My suggestions:
baby steps
DM: Its a workroom full of tools and materials. Dust fills the air and glitters in the shafts of daylight slicing through the wooden walls.
Player: What's here?
DM: (thinking...do they really think I wrote down everything here? I just said tools and materials.) Are you looking for something in particular or do you want to inventory the place before the bad guys get here?
Player: Well, something to brace the door...like maybe some boards, nail, and hammer?
DM: Make a Wisdom(Perception) check DC 10 to find them quickly enough to beat the bad guys.
Player: rolls...14
DM: Yup. You find some nails and board up the door. You've just finished when you hear them shouting outside.

up and running
DM: Its a workroom full of tools and materials. Dust fills the air and glitters in the shafts of daylight slicing through the wooden walls.
Player: A workroom? I want to try and use the stuff here to brace the door.
DM: Make a Wisdom(Perception) check DC 10 to find them quickly enough to beat the bad guys.
Player: rolls...14
DM: Okay, what did you find and how'd you brace the door?
Player: A hammer, nails, and some boards.
DM: You just get finished when you hear them shouting outside.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I'm going to start by addressing a point in your response above this one. I don't think that D&D discourages the kind of play we're talking about, it just doesn't overtly encourage it. Many players have only D&D to guide them, or game similar to D&D. IF the game they play doesn't say "Hey, this thing and that thing" how would they know it's a thing, never mind better or worse. I don't know that just watching a podcast would help either. Even a very fiction forward game might be difficult to parse and sift out exactly what the difference is.

The actual mechanics of D&D also don't really connect to the idea we're talking about either. Even the weak attempts at drive and motivation (the Inspiration System) seem very tacked on and are regularly ignored.

I don't think having players narrate vignettes is particularly necessary. It may be helpful, but I don't know as I've never really tried it.

I thik @Ratskinner's post in more on target. It's about encourage players to engage the fiction - both in high-level "thematic terms, that is, making decisions about what it is that their PCs' goals are; and in more nitty-gritty action declaration terms, that is, actually telling us what it is their PCs are doing or hoping to achieve in the here and now.

Eg instead of I look around - what do I see? I would encourage players to say I am looking for such-and-such - is it here? Of course one way you encourage that is by making it matter. And one way you can make it matter is be using some sort of post-action-declaration rather than pre-action-declaration process for working out the answer to the player's question.
I agree with everything you say here. Engagement is the key.

My comment about vingettes wasn't, in itself, all that important. It's more about the style of play indexed by that sort of thing. When you read PtBA, or Blades, or any FATE game, I think the way those writers and designers talk about the game, and the way they explain how it should be played is different than what you find in the D&D books. This isn't a criticism of D&D at all, btw, I'm just trying to sort the differences. When they talk about the player's responsibilities, how a character is imagined, what the goal of actions are, and what the general nature of the game is, that all of those things add up to a very different message than the one you get in the PHB.

In an attempt to codify the differences, I arrived at player agency in the narrative, which in many different ways, aptly describes the divide I'm trying to describe, but that difference is also well described by your use of engagement. Like I said, there's no value judgement here, no better or worse. When you see a DM playing a more PbtA style, or whatever (fronting the things I see in PtBA that you also see in Traveller) I think those things, in many cases, come from experience with other games rather than a moment of satori about how D&D could be better.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
If you want people to try a new system, you have to find the fun. Teaching rules, getting rid of ingrained concepts, all that stuff is beside the point. If you do not demonstrate why the new system is more fun is some way than the old system, you will not win people over. It’a up to you which find the thing to get people excited about, but that must be your main goal.

And it‘s not going to be easy, because D&D is a pretty good system that handles a variety of play styles well; so you really do need to work hard in those first few sessions to make people think “hey, that was pretty cool! i like D&D, but this might also be fun”

For me, Fate clicked for my players the first combat where they created advantages and used social ‘attacks’ as well as just physical attacks. That was something that D&D doesn’t do as well, and gave them a reason to keep playing. It’s why people love the CoC sanity rules and why that system never has problems winning converts — it’s immediately clear that it offers a fun Experience unlike D&D.

On the other hand, I’ve never had that experience with PbtA games. As a player, it always felt like I could be playing the same game using Fate rules to get the same sort of effect.

So if the system has great rules for X, or does X differently from D&D in a way that is fun, get to that first. Give people a reason to play a new system.
 

pemerton

Legend
My $.04...

Encourages and Discourages are two sides of the same coin here. I think there are two particular factors in D&D (and I throw most traditionally-framed rpgs in there, too):

First, the game-design is list based (spells, equipment, classes, tables for what kind of prostitute you meet, etc.) which defines the fiction right off....yes, there is magic...but THIS is what you can do with it. That kinda narrows things right off the bat.

Secondly, the game mechanics and descriptions of those list items are defined in such a way as to primarily act quantitatively with other mechanics (hp, AC, etc.), not qualitatively within the fiction, and only secondarily to add very specific narrative elements. (Consider the necessity of having a mechanical definition for "stunned" vs. just being "stunned" as a Consequence or temporary Aspect in Fate - no extra mechanics needed.)

....I'm going to avoid addressing 4e to try and keep this thread from degenerating.:censored:
Now we're cooking with gas!

Re lists: I see what you're saying. But Classic Traveller relies heavily on lists (mostly of gear). And Rolemaster relies heavily on lilts (especially of spells). But I don't necessarily see the narrowing you describe. Eg Traveller has Electronics skill, which kind-of implies that players are expected to have their PCs jury-rig their gear (and we've seen this happen in play). And at least in my experience, the "richness" of RM PC gen encourages players to think about the backstory and conrtext for their PC, which already contributes to the shared fiction.

In AD&D Oriental Adventures, the PC gen system encouraged the players to think about their family, their martial arts masters, etc, which likewise contributes to the shared fiction.

Also, in the days of ur-D&D one gathers that it wasn't unheard of for a player to suggest a new class or class variant (hence the ranger, presumably the illusionist, etc). I've always assumed it was Rob Kuntz who brought up the possibility of Robilar taking an orc on as a henchman. Spell research was presumably intended to be a meaningful option. Etc. In other words, the lists weren't seen as outside the players' sphere of influence.

On your second point - that is something I've picked up in the "Putting the Awe back into Magic" thread. The D&D combat mechanics don't engage the fiction at what, when one thinks about the fiction, is apt to be the most dramatic point of action - what happens when A tries to run B through with a sword? I don't accept that all "trad" RPGs are like this: RM and RQ are not, and Classic Traveller's combat is a bit like this but is so close to sudden death that it doesn't really compare to D&D beyond 1st level.

So I think to get D&D players to orient themselves more towards non-D&D games it would make sense to lean more heavily on non-combat resolution.

And to conclude this post: I don't think we could talk about why discussion of 4e would degerenate the thread without talking about how 4e relates in distinctive ways to these features of the D&D "tradition".
 
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pemerton

Legend
If you want people to try a new system, you have to find the fun. Teaching rules, getting rid of ingrained concepts, all that stuff is beside the point. If you do not demonstrate why the new system is more fun is some way than the old system, you will not win people over. It’a up to you which find the thing to get people excited about, but that must be your main goal.
Over the past few years my group - which playes for 4 or so hours every second to fourth Sunday afternoon depending on our other commitments - has played the following systems:

**Cthulhu Dark
*AD&D
4e D&D
*Classic Traveller
*Burning Wheel
**Wuthering Heights
**Cortex+ Heroic/MHRP
**The Dying Earth
**Prince Valiant
**In A Wicked Age​

One asterisk signals new to at least one player. Two signal new to everyone at the table.

Not all of those systems have produced campaigns as opposed to one-offs - the campaigns are 4e (currently on hold), Classic Traveller, BW, Cortex+ Heroic and Prince Valiant. But none has been dropped because disliked.

Maybe it's just a quibble, but I would say what is important is not so much what's fun - which is alomost a given for a half-decent system with a group of experienced RPGers - but what worthwhile experience does this give that we woudn't have had otherwise. Eg in our Wuthering Heights game last Sunday, that was overwrought drama driven by rage and despair.

For a good one-shot, though, the systems needs to be fairly painless and easily picked up. Wuthering Heights (and Cthulhlu Dark, and In A Wicked Age) tick that box. The Dying Earth - which is a bit crunchier - relied more on me knowing the rules fairly well even though I'd never played it before.

I don't think 4e or even Cortex+ Heroic/MHRP makes for a particular good one-shot if all the group are trying to pick it up then and their!
 

pemerton

Legend
In an attempt to codify the differences, I arrived at player agency in the narrative, which in many different ways, aptly describes the divide I'm trying to describe, but that difference is also well described by your use of engagement. Like I said, there's no value judgement here, no better or worse. When you see a DM playing a more PbtA style, or whatever (fronting the things I see in PtBA that you also see in Traveller) I think those things, in many cases, come from experience with other games rather than a moment of satori about how D&D could be better.
I want to unpack this a bit more.

In classic D&D, there are two "phases" of the fiction: (1) character build - which includes PC gen, equipping the PCs, choosing spell load out, etc; and (2) the dungeon/wilderness that the PCs have to make their way throuigh and extract treasure from.

When it comes to (2), referee control over the fiction is central, because that is what frames the challenge.

When it comes to (1), player influence on the fiction is fine, provided the GM exercise the sort of oversight that stops overpowered class variants, unlimited bankc accounts, etc. This is where orc henchmen, new classes, research spells, thinking up new wacky bits of dungeoneering equipment, etc all fit in.

There are (at least) two ways that this distinction can be eroded:

(A) Character building increasingly itself becomes a site of challenge - eg having to find a supplier of your goods, or having to find a mentor or trainer, etc. In more concrete terms I would say this is especially associated with urban adventuring becoming more common, in place of the abstract town/village/inn.

(B) The idea of the challenge becomes less prominent, with the emphasis shifting to exploration of the fiction. And all the fiction, the (1)-phase as well as the (2)-phase, becomes seen as the GM's domain.

I think one can see (A) taking place in the late 70s, and (B) taking place in the early 80s, culminating (you won't be surprised to see me assert) in 2nd ed AD&D.

I wouldn't say that I ever had a moment of satori, but as I (B)-ed I didn't collapse the phases in the direction of (2) but more in the direction of (1). Or at least a more expansive conception of what is part of (1), to include elements of the fiction that will be prominent in play and not just as "background".
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
@pemerton - Wonderful post.

I think you can take your outline above and continue to unpack it a variety of profitable ways. First, I think there is something interesting, perhaps several interesting somethings, to examine that stem from your A, character building as a site of challenge, that index pretty clearly some of the elements of the evolution of play in D&D. Second, I think in the case of B, D&D suffered somewhat from being the hippo in the bathtub when it comes to responsiveness to the changing tides of the lager industry. In both the above, I see traces of the difference I was attempting to describe.

I think that one useful way to talk about the evolution of roleplaying from the 70's through, say, the 90's, is to characterize it as a discussion, or a discourse, that existed between D&D on the one hand, and the rest of the industry on the other. D&D was during that time, I think, the yardstick by which the industry defined itself. At least I don't think that's a controversial way to describe the situation. That discourse is interesting because I see it as oddly one-sided. A lot of companies were either producing games that could be described either as "D&D but..." or as "not D&D because...". I'm not trying to trivialize the work of other designers with that characterization, but I do think that design questions like "what do I want my game to do?" or "what is actually important about the gaming experience?" that other games were at least in part designed to address do indeed come from a departure point of D&D as the "model from which". Differently from these other games, D&D was in the process of becoming "more D&D than before" rather than adjusting to any outside influences.

When you look at where D&D ended up in it's 3rd edition in terms of your A, character build as challenge site, I see a clear evolution at work. The complexity of character creation, and the impact of what we like to call system mastery, became pronounced. The ways in which characters interacted with the diagetic framework became increasingly granular as skills, proficiencies, and abilities multiplied, and the search for synergy in that ever expanding bin of granularity became the chief challenge facing players during character creation. What did not change in this movement, and what in fact receded in some ways, was any notion of player interaction or agency within the fiction that fell outside this ever-expanding set of rolls and skill tests. The way in which D&D evolved was to produce more and more specificity and volume in the set of things that could be rolled for, and more and more variety and complexity in the ways in which players could design their characters to provide bonuses to whichever rolls they felt most important. Players were challenged to define their characters in terms of bonuses to the rolls that reflected what the player felt their character should be good at. The teleos of this evolution, in terms of play, is that players wanted to roll dice to do things. Interaction with the fiction become, I would argue, more about choosing what to roll than about determining if a roll were the right tool. To put this evolution in your terms, I think D&D very much collapsed in the direction of 1 as it 'B'-ed. This focus on skills, and more generally on die rolls as the primary diagetic tool, serve in some ways as a deterrent to exploring other ways to play the game, and other ways to apportion control over the fiction. Not an overt or explicit deterrent, but one that works by shining a very bright spotlight elsewhere.

This has gotten long, and I need a cup of tea, so I'm going to put a pin in my discussion of hippos and bathtubs and come back to it later on, should that still seem like a useful avenue of discussion.
 

pemerton

Legend
@pemerton - Wonderful post.
It's kind of you to say so!

The way in which D&D evolved was to produce more and more specificity and volume in the set of things that could be rolled for, and more and more variety and complexity in the ways in which players could design their characters to provide bonuses to whichever rolls they felt most important. Players were challenged to define their characters in terms of bonuses to the rolls that reflected what the player felt their character should be good at.

<snip>

This focus on skills, and more generally on die rolls as the primary diagetic tool, serve in some ways as a deterrent to exploring other ways to play the game, and other ways to apportion control over the fiction. Not an overt or explicit deterrent, but one that works by shining a very bright spotlight elsewhere.
I played very little 3E D&D, and so the developments you describe here are things I know of rather than things I myself know. I moved from AD&D to Rolemaster in 1990, and RM was my main game through to the end of 2008. In that time I also played bits-and-pieces of AD&D 2nd ed, RQ and other BRP games, and a few convention one-shots.

RM has a fairly intricate skill system, but in its fundamentals I don't think it reflects what you describe above, because it doesn't take a great deal of mastery in the 3E sense to build a characer: you just need to get high numbers in the skills you want to use! (There is mastery in learning how the rules of PC build actually work - eg how to calculate the costs of skill ranks purchased and the bonus that results - but that's not the same as the hunting around for bonuses that you describe.)

And with the use of skills in RM - at least as we played it - the focus is always on the fiction. It's not as tight as "moves" in PbtA (to do it, you do it) but it's not as disconnected from the fiction as I often see 3E described (as an observer of 3E, Diplomacy skill seems to be one poster child for this; personally I also think Natural Armour is another site of that disconnect but that's more controversial).

4e, as I encountered it and as my group has played it, was obviously a "fiction first" game in non-combat resolution, while in combat a strange mix of fiction-first for positioning and terrain, abstract D&D-isms for defences and hit points, and halfway in between when it comes to conditions inflicted as part of combat resolution.

There was a trope used in some threads back in that time of "the wrought iron fence made of tigers". But 4e never played like that for us - the trope seemed obviously misplaced given both (i) the actual text of the game, and (ii) the fact that everyone who enjoyed the game seemed to be playing it fiction first, while everyone who played it disconnected from the fiction seemed to think it sucked. (The theory underlying (ii) being that the people who are enjoying a game are the ones who have worked out how it's meant to be played!)
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think I'd probably stop short of talking about the way the game is 'meant to be played', for the most part anyway. For example, I cannot stand 4E, pretty much everything about it rubs me the wrong way, starting with the emphasis on miniatures for play. However, I will also freely admit that 4E is also a really well designed tactical combat game. Lots of people love 4E, and lots of those people love the focus on tactics and miniature use. Some of those people aren't playing fiction first games, and I'm not here to tell them they're wrong. However, in terms of my personal taste in games, and the evolution of what I find compelling about RPG play, I have hopped over the fiction-first fence and run off into the fields of shared narrative control shouting this is sooooo COOL!. I remember very clearly reading FUDGE for the first time when it came out and not groking it at all. It had none of the tools I had come to expect, and consequently I couldn't see how it was actually any good for anything. Now I'd point to that moment as the beginning of something new.

My perspective in D&D play very much stems from my extended experience with 2E and 3E and my subsequent move to greener narrative pastures. Even now with 5th, I'm often trying to massage the game to add a more mechanically sound basis for narrative agency into a rules set that still doesn't really support it that well. I don't want D&D to be PtbA, but I would like it to lean a little more in that direction. Interestingly, to hearken back to your earlier post, my interest in urban play, and non-dungeon play, is a key factor there, as it forces me to lean on the two shakier pillars of play more often. Once you start kicking the tires on pillars two and three, you get a clearer picture of the extent to which D&D's default is still very much DM control of the fiction, even though 5E has come light years forward compared to earlier editions in some regards (IMO anyway).
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
If you want people to try a new system, you have to find the fun. Teaching rules, getting rid of ingrained concepts, all that stuff is beside the point. If you do not demonstrate why the new system is more fun is some way than the old system, you will not win people over. It’a up to you which find the thing to get people excited about, but that must be your main goal. . .

So if the system has great rules for X, or does X differently from D&D in a way that is fun, get to that first. Give people a reason to play a new system.
Not entirely beside the point. I agree: show the players the good bits. But looking at them through a D&D lens might prevent the seeing. For example, a D&D player walks into a Numenera game. Numenera has stat pools which can look like hit points to a D&D player (but they're not...). Part of the fun in Numenera is expending effort (which reduces one's stat pools) which permits special abilities and increased luck. The D&D viewer might not see this though, because from her perspective, expending effort = reducing hit points = killing your character.

**Cthulhu Dark
*AD&D​
4e D&D​
*Classic Traveller​
*Burning Wheel​
**Wuthering Heights​
**Cortex+ Heroic/MHRP​
**The Dying Earth​
**Prince Valiant​
**In A Wicked Age​

. . .Maybe it's just a quibble, but I would say what is important is not so much what's fun - which is alomost a given for a half-decent system with a group of experienced RPGers - but what worthwhile experience does this give that we woudn't have had otherwise. Eg in our Wuthering Heights game last Sunday, that was overwrought drama driven by rage and despair.
I was reading "what's worthwhile" into "what's fun," for what it's worth...while...

Did the switch to any of the above games involve unlearning things from prior games? I'm guessing your group isn't the type to say, "I don't want to play this, because this other game does it better," but there might have been some "I don't understand this rule, because it's handled clearly in this other game."

By the way, it's good to hear that the despair-driven game was worthwhile 🤓
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
The games my group consistently plays are 5e, CoC 6e, Classic Traveller; with alternately thrown in B/X, OSR, PF 1, M-Space, Mythras, and Mongoose Traveller 1e. Most of it fairly well hacked for original settings. As far as DnD isms (which is funny because all RPG's in Russian are "D&D"); just be patient with whoever, GM or player, saying what the rules are, and to have a copy handy of the rules. Patience is the most important part.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Now we're cooking with gas!

Re lists: I see what you're saying. But Classic Traveller relies heavily on lists (mostly of gear). And Rolemaster relies heavily on lilts (especially of spells). But I don't necessarily see the narrowing you describe. Eg Traveller has Electronics skill, which kind-of implies that players are expected to have their PCs jury-rig their gear (and we've seen this happen in play). And at least in my experience, the "richness" of RM PC gen encourages players to think about the backstory and conrtext for their PC, which already contributes to the shared fiction.
Not too familiar with RM. Is that the one with the tables for combat results that includes super-detailed things like..."toe chopped off"? If so, I'll just say...ahem, and leave it at that. I think that authorially-minded players and GMs can act this way in almost any system. My crux of the issue for me is how well-supported such things are within the mechanics.

In AD&D Oriental Adventures, the PC gen system encouraged the players to think about their family, their martial arts masters, etc, which likewise contributes to the shared fiction.
If that ends up contributing to the play-narrative...sure. However, that ends up being totally up to the DM, doesn't it? I don't recall anything like Fate's compels, where you might get a Fate point if the kidnapped victim is one of your family or something. (Which you can then spend later to push the fiction in a direction you like.)

Also, in the days of ur-D&D one gathers that it wasn't unheard of for a player to suggest a new class or class variant (hence the ranger, presumably the illusionist, etc). I've always assumed it was Rob Kuntz who brought up the possibility of Robilar taking an orc on as a henchman. Spell research was presumably intended to be a meaningful option. Etc. In other words, the lists weren't seen as outside the players' sphere of influence.
When you're talking about the people who were establishing the lists...sure. But things like spell research have diminished returns for player effort/time if the list is already long. I think the same things apply to any of those lists.

On your second point - that is something I've picked up in the "Putting the Awe back into Magic" thread. The D&D combat mechanics don't engage the fiction at what, when one thinks about the fiction, is apt to be the most dramatic point of action - what happens when A tries to run B through with a sword? I don't accept that all "trad" RPGs are like this: RM and RQ are not, and Classic Traveller's combat is a bit like this but is so close to sudden death that it doesn't really compare to D&D beyond 1st level.
By traditional, I'm usually referring to the design sense rather than temporal. So, for me d20 Modern is pretty traditional, along with many other systems that some think are ground breaking. My personal experience has been that, even with some of the systems you mention, the results are pretty much D&D with different resolution systems. I'm confident that varies from group to group.

So I think to get D&D players to orient themselves more towards non-D&D games it would make sense to lean more heavily on non-combat resolution.
I agree. But that's difficult when most games have (like D&D) extensive rules and subsystems for combat resolution, but little more than lip-service to non-combat fictional resolution (often without any subsystems whatever).

And to conclude this post: I don't think we could talk about why discussion of 4e would degerenate the thread without talking about how 4e relates in distinctive ways to these features of the D&D "tradition".
I agree, but y'know, such a discussion is likely to degenerate the thread...so, there's that.:confused:
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I agree. But that's difficult when most games have (like D&D) extensive rules and subsystems for combat resolution, but little more than lip-service to non-combat fictional resolution (often without any subsystems whatever).
This. This is where I spend a lot of my time tinkering, especially on the social interaction side. The lack of subsytems, and the lack of mechanical resolution beyond pass/fail doesn't provide a lot of handholds. I know you can adjudicate success with consequences there, but I really don't like the cognitive load that entails, nor being responsible to the players for when I choose to do that or when I don't. A lot of my tinkering involves subsystems to add clocks and ladders, as well as more graduated levels of success.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I'm running a non-D&D online game with a couple of seats open for drop-in players (Roll20), and I'm finding that some players can't quite wrap their heads around a non-D&D rule set. It's more of an issue when play wanders away from role-play and into rules-dense territory, like combat.

If you've GMed other bloodlines of games, like Fate or Dungeon World (or Amber?), how did you help players break out of the D&D mindset?

If you've learned a non-d20-style game as a PC while coming from a D&D background, did you have trouble avoiding old habits? What did you do to overcome them?
I'm running two games of Dungeon World now for people who are mostly familiar with DnD (myself included). It's difficult at first. I think really it just takes time, and reading lots of DM advice and youtube videos to teach yourself so you can also teach the players. I know that's not the best advice, but it's what has worked for me.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Is Dungeon World the game you're running? I can see people having some issues adapting to a PtbA style game. It's very different, and there is a lot more responsibility in the player, at least compared to a more passive D&D style player. They just arent used to playing to find out what happens. It'll come though, and it'll be worth it.
yes, it just takes patience and practice, like learning any new skill. DW is probably hardest for the GM, as it does require more thinking fast on your feet moments than even regular DnD. You don't have the dice to fall back on as much, you have to push the story through description.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
yes, it just takes patience and practice, like learning any new skill. DW is probably hardest for the GM, as it does require more thinking fast on your feet moments than even regular DnD. You don't have the dice to fall back on as much, you have to push the story through description.
You do have to think fast. On the other hand you have success with consequences to fall back on. If you really take to the flow of "yes, but" things get easier. Also, some people seem to think that DW is prep-free or something, or that prep is somehow against the spirit of the game. I don't think either is true, but I do think the prep that really helps if different from the prep people might be useful from D&D. It does take practice though, no doubt.
 

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